Imagine bringing a guy home to meet your family for dinner. You’re nervous. He doesn’t know what to say. You plead with your dad to refrain from interrogating him until at least the third date. He spills a plateful of spaghetti on your mother’s lap. It happens to everyone. If it hasn’t yet, it will.
You have nothing to worry about, unless, of course, you’re Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker meeting Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes, or Tony Kirby (Music School junior Marc Paskin) entering soon-to-be wife Alice Sycamore’s (Music School senior Beckah Gluckstein) household. The latter is seen in the School of Music’s production of George Kaufman and Moss Hart’s 1937 comedy “You Can’t Take it with You,” which opens tonight at the Power Center and runs through Sunday.
Alice’s family emulates the peculiarity of the Adams Family and the hilarity of last years film “The Family Stone.” With her crazy father, Paul (Music School junior Matt Semler), farming fireworks in the basement, and her brother-in-law, Ed (Music School junior Aaron Seeburger), hording printing presses and xylophones, Alice fears Tony will spot her eccentric household and bolt for the door.
Tony, however, loves the Sycamores and all their quirks. It’s Mr. and Mrs. Kirby, playing the conservative counterpart to the Sycamores, who must be convinced to accept their future daughter-in-law’s family. When the three Kirby’s arrive a day early for the scheduled dinner date to introduce the families, two cultures and traditions fall under the same roof and every man and ballerina struggles for household equilibrium.
“It’s fun, but not fluffy,” Gluckstein said in an e-mail interview. “There are some serious matters that are addressed in the play, but it’s not written in an academic, wordy or dense style.”
Music prof. and director Malcolm Tulip believes the sheer comedy of this production will attract the student community.
“The characters are immediate, free-spirited and funny,” Tulip said. “The family is the core of the comedy. They’re all living life as they want to, and without hurting anyone.”
Like the first School of Music production this year, “The Cradle Will Rock,” “You Can’t Take it with You” teases out a Depression-era situation, “thematically connecting the two,” Tulip said, “and showing different views of the same time period.”
The audience finds it easy to snuggle into an evening of familiar household chaos with this intricate 1930s set. With the hanging chandelier and the maroon velvet curtains, the numerous paintings and ceramic plates, the stage closely approaches detailed without every crossing the line to complicated. Tulip believes his characters find a home in this different kind of setting.
“The most difficult part for the actors was getting the style right without making it seem hollow,” Tulip said. “There still needs to be real people and good comedy.”
The only problem he encountered, in fact, was the balance of the cast and stage itself.
“Working out the logistics of the show was like trying to manage a big city train station,” Tulip said. “With the number of roles and the constant movement onstage, the traffic control was complicated.”
The quantity of actors only increases the quality of the production. Tulip said they “have grown . and are able to hold their own.”
Students can expect physical comedy, a strong cast and a sense of familiarity, however small, with the Sycamores they see a little of their own household in the one portrayed onstage.
You Can’t Take it With You
Today and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
$16 – $22
At the Power Center